Caution: This post is a bit like “scrambly eggs”. It’s too close to Thanksgiving to put together a coherent, well thought out post, with delicious food on my mind. Here you go:
We (obviously) have little constraint when it comes to choosing what we immerse ourselves with when we’re online. But we squander a significant amount of time simply “flipping” through the various networks we’re intertwined with. It feels like too much work because the platforms we use don’t share data with one another. This is where a problem arises. The networks we spend our time with are not interconnected - in any meaningful way.
I believe this disconnect (between networks) offers an opportunity to change social. Klout is the best example I can conjure up in an attempt to explain. Klout ”provides social media anlaytics to measure a user’s influence across their social network. The analysis is done on data taken from sites such as Twitter and Facebook and measures the size of a person’s network, the content created, and how other people interact with that content.”
As of now, Klout (and services like it) is the only thing that brings this potential “interconnectedness” to the table. And the only thing it offers are the analytics of how influential you are. If you apply the approach Klout takes (to the totality of what social is), when it analyses your influence, a pattern emerges. They’re connecting the dots between social networks - that’s not real hard to figure out. In fact, the previous sentence (connecting the dots between social networks; what are you doing that works and what doesn’t) is probably close to the company’s mission statement.
The point is, the biggest opportunity for web developers will come - not from creating a new social network or the latest and greatest app (also a no brainer). The companies that figure out how to seamlessly integrate sections of networks (photos, contacts, videos, news articles, sharing links, etc.) with every other network - without violating the terms of service of the main platforms - will make the biggest splash.
For example: if you play Words With Friends and you want to challenge - not just the folks you’re connected with on Facebook, but also your colleagues on Linkedin - it shouldn’t be so damn hard to do. Now, that may sound like an obvious explanation for where the future of social is headed, but it feels like something even bigger is emerging.
I’ve never played Farmville but it’s not too hard to understand the concept of the game. And I’m using it as an example because it’s one of the most popular games in social.
Here’s a quick overview: “Upon beginning a farm, the player first creates a customizable avatar which may be changed at any point. The player begins with an empty farm and a fixed starting amount of “farm coins”, the primary currency in the game. Players also earn XP (experience points) for performing certain actions in the game such as plowing land or buying items. At certain XP benchmarks, the player’s level rises. As the player obtains more items and progresses through levels, crops and animals become available to them via the “market” where items can be purchased using either farm coins or “farm cash”. Farm cash is earned by leveling up or completing offers, or purchased for real money.”
The pattern I see is this: social is becoming a game. I’ll let you try and connect the dots rather than explain it further, if you don’t quite understand what I’ve said. It’s kinda hard to put into words because I’m not entirely sure how it will play out, if it does…